Germany’s North Sea ports halt operations during one-day strike

Ports across Germany were effectively shut down on Thursday June 24th as a result of trade union Ver.di staging what it called a “warning strike”, The union said that it had reached an impasse with the Central Association of Germany Seaports over their collective bargaining agreement.

The union represents approximately 12,000 workers at the seaports of Emden, Bremerhaven, Bremen, Brake, Wilhelmshaven, and Hamburg. Reports indicated that work at all of the ports came to a halt on Thursday with the first shift and the workers vowing not to return until Friday morning’s first shift.

Ver.di negotiator Maya Schwiegershausen-Güth said that “the offer made by the employers in the fourth round of negotiations is totally inadequate; it has not brought any substantial improvement to the previous offer but turned out to be a classic deceptive package. It is unacceptable that employers want to leave employees largely alone with the effects of the rapidly increasing prices,” continued Schwiegershausen-Güth. “The employees have worked to the limit in recent years and kept the supply chains together. They deserve real recognition and their fair share.”

The union wants a 14% rise (€1.20 an hour) across the 58 collective bargaining companies including at the primary ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven. They are also demanding an annual bonus of up to €1,200 and that the contract cover only 12 months. The employers are offering increases of up to 11% in an 18 month-deal.

The union had previously staged a four-hour warning strike at the beginning of June. It has not undertaken industrial action since the 1970s.

Reports indicated that almost the entire workforce honoured the strike in Bremen as well as ports ranging from Wilhelmshaven to Brecht and Emden. The shipping industry warned that even brief strikes could impact the supply chain. Some 30 ships, including 15 large containerships, were said to be waiting in the North Sea for berths at German ports